Best Way To Talk About Machine Learning

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Talking to people about machine learning is tricky.

I have learned this the hard way. Sometimes it feels like they don’t want to understand you.

In this article I am going to show you how you can talk about machine learning with normal people. Like your boss, other colleges, or your friends.

You just need to use a different language when you talk with non experts.

Never talk about algorithms and models

In 1959 the author Arthur Samuel coined machine learning as:

Field of study that gives computers the ability to learn without being explicitly programmedArthur Samuel

People understand, that if you want to solve a problem you need to explicitly program it. It has worked very well until now and it is what people know.

Without being explicitly programmed. This is where machine learning is totally different to typical problem solving.

That is why you should never talk about algorithms and models with people.

Here are some bad examples:

“This machine learning algorithm solves this or that…”
“This model tells you if this or that is good or bad…”

Algorithms & models. These two keywords tell people you explicitly coded a problem. Know matter what you say.

It is hardcoded in their minds.

So Andreas, what is the best way then?

Use learning, self-learning and patterns

Here’s what you can do:

Instead of algorithms use learning or self learning methods to describe how the solution works.

Try to avoid the term model. People associate with it that you specifically modelled something.

Talk about learning and self-learning. Talk about patterns and combine it with “the system”.

Like this:

This system learns how to solve this or that
This system self-learns how to solve this or that

Or like that:

This system has learned a pattern to tell you if this or that is good or bad…
This system has self-learned a pattern to tell you if this or that is good or bad…

See what a difference this makes?

With this wording no one will think that you explicitly coded the problem.

Another way to solve this problem is by using the hammer method. The AI hammer.

Use AI even if it is wrong

What some people do, is to use Artificial intelligence instead of machine learning.

“This AI solves this or that…”

“This AI tells you if this or that is good or bad…”

From an experts view this behaviour is questionable. To use AI for some solution that is not an AI solution is, määäh.

But people know AI from movies and understand that this is some next level shit.

What is your recipe?

Do you have a special trick you use when talking to people about machine learning?

Tell me in the comments section below.

If you liked this article please share it with your friends on social media. That would help me a lot! Thanks

—Andreas

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Title Image by Cole Hutson on Unsplash

Comments 2

  1. I can refer to the “AI” term. When i first started learning about data science/machine learning, people would get so confused whenever i talked about algorithms. So i decided to use the following sentence “this is an AI”.

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